The Connellan Airways Hangar was erected in 1940/41 at the Townsite aerodrome, the site of the Museum, serving as the main base of operations for the Airways (later Connair) until all operations ceased by June 1968. The limitations of the aerodrome for larger aircraft operations now needed as Alice Springs grew forced the airline to move to what is now referred to as the Seven Mile aerodrome and finally, the present airport.
The original Bellman Hangar, which occupied the site next to the Connellan hangar was dismantled and relocated at the Airline’s new location.
The Connellan Hangar became derelict. The nearby landing strips disappeared under the rapid expansion of Alice Springs – the houses and road, Memorial Avenue, fronting the Museum precinct are sited on the old main runway. By 1977 there was little evidence of the runways, and the hangar was in a sad state of repair, becoming a haven for squatters and target for vandals.
The founding of the Central Australian Aviation Museum in 1977 soon changed this situation.
Motivated by the tragic suicide flight by a disgruntled pilot into the Connair engineering complex at the Alice Springs Airport on 5 January, a working committee was formed and it was not long before the Connellan Hangar was reclaimed and work commenced in earnest. In-kind and monetary support from many people who sought to recognize the sacrifice made by those who lost their lives in that terrible event, willingly paid $50 membership ($300 at today’s value) without question or guarantee.
The Museum’s doors were open in May 1979 thanks to vital financial assistance from the NT Government, crucial in establishing the Museum, along with the terrific public response.
Since opening, many exhibits have been acquired, such as aircraft, engines, components, historical photographs, papers, and videos.
It is now possible for people to visit the Museum free of charge and find out for themselves the extraordinary history of pioneering aviation which took off from Townsite and the role it played in the development of Central Australia.